There's no better feeling than the one that comes with seeing your body become stronger and more efficient after adopting a new workout. Unfortunately, our bodies are very adaptable and most people find that if they don't switch up their fitness routine they will eventually reach a plateau. To find out what we can do to take our workouts to the next level and keep seeing results, we spoke to two leading fitness experts, Kira Stokes and Patrick Frost. We also asked two leading yoga experts, Loren Bassett and Dana Slamp, to highlight how gym-goers and athletes across the board can benefit from incorporating a yoga practice into their weekly routine.
See below for what the experts exclusively shared with us!
Kira Stokes, fitness expert, certified personal trainer, group exercice instructor, and star of Stoked TV
- "A Gym on Every Corner" – Look at your environment as the biggest gym in the world. During an outdoor run, every set of stairs you see, stop and run them 5 times. Every third park bench you spot, perform 60 seconds of step ups and 15 push-ups or dips. Every other hill you hit, sprint it.
- "A.D.D. Cardio" – In this case, A.D.D. stands for "Add Different Disciplines." When killing your cardio in the gym, don't stick to just one machine. Variety is not only the spice of life, it's what your body needs to see results. Pick 3 different cardio machines to use to get your sweat on. And remember, as a general rule, that one piece of equipment or exercise you always avoid because it's so tough is probably the one that you need to do the most because you get the most out of it.
- "Amp it Up" – Pay attention to the intensity of your workouts. Make sure you are working hard enough, not just going through the motions. Wear a heart rate monitor or check your heart rate frequently to make sure you are in your target zone. Run faster, increase the weight, increase the number of sets, change the order of your exercises. You can always push a little harder. The old adage, "you reap what you sow" applies to working out too.
- "Jump-Start Your Workouts" – A jump rope is one of the simplest yet most elegant pieces of workout equipment. So underrated. If you buy one thing today, buy a jump rope. Keep a jump rope with you at all times. A jump rope is a fantastic tool to amp up your cross-training workouts to ensure you are working at a fat burning, calorie blasting level. Jump for 3-5 minutes in between switching cardio machines while practicing your A.D.D. cardio. Perhaps shorten a run by a mile and replace it with 10 minutes of jumping rope. During strength training workouts, replace resting in between sets with 2 minutes of jumping. I promise you, you will be jumping for joy in no time!
- "The Art of Mixology" – Open your mind and body to new equipment. On strength training days, change up the equipment you use to get your "pump" on. Replace dumbbells with bands, use a stability ball instead of a bench. Medicine balls, weighted vests, balance boards, etc. can all be used to challenge the body in new ways, keeping you from hitting a dreaded plateau. You don't keep reading the same book over and over again, your mind would go numb…treat your body with the same love and care as you treat your mind!
Patrick Frost, Barry's Bootcamp instructor and personal trainer
- A great way to burn fat effectivly is long slow distance training, which is exactly what it sounds like. Pick a distance (5k to 10k) or time (30 minutes to 2 hours) and work these runs into your routines one to three times a week. It's a low intensity run. The benefits of this particular style of training are cardiovascular function, increased utilization of fat, and mitochondrial energy production. Because of the low intensity, the fuel that you utilize for energy is fat/fat storages.
- Fartlek training is another great way to amp up your workout routine — plus it's fun to say! It's a Swedish term that literally translates into "speed play." This style is great to increase oxygen intake which in return increases your lactate threshold. The duration of this workout is anywhere from 20 to 60 minutes; you maintain an easy pace with short burst of high intensity running lasting anywhere from 30 to 90 seconds. I would suggest doing this once a week.
- Interval training is great to do once or twice a week for 15 to 30 minutes. Example: 30 second sprint, 30 second recovery. This run is great for building endurance and to push that lactic threshold up a notch as well.
- Repetition training, which I suggest doing for 15 to 30 minutes about once a week, is often confused with interval training, but there's a key difference — recovery time. The ratio of interval is 1:1 where as the repetition style is 2:1 recovery to run. The idea is to run at race pace, so the recovery ratio is twice as long as your run. You reach your VO2 max anywhere from 30 to 90 seconds and recover for twice as much. This type of a run is great for increasing your running economy and increasing capacity and tolerance for anaerobic metabolism.
Loren Bassett, Pure Yoga hot power vinyasa instructor, founder of Bassett Bootcamp, Lululemon ambassador
- The mental, physical, and spiritual practice of yoga helps improve an athlete's form, focus, efficiency, and power.
- Deep, relaxed breathing expands lung capacity, improves concentration, and promotes mental focus. It integrates a mind/body connection that is ideal for athletes.
- Yoga builds strength by using your own body weight as resistance and holding isometric contractions. An important part of the practice is building core strength. The core is the epicenter of the body. A strong core prevents back problems by providing greater support for the spine and helps with balance.
- Yoga increases flexibility, improves range of motion, and balances the body. It is beneficial for athletes because it helps maintain balance between strength and flexibility. The flexibility helps prevent injury, particularly to fragile body parts like hips, groins, and the rotator cuff.
- Yoga improves balance, one of the most effective ways to correct muscle imbalance and body mechanic problems.
- The mental focus achieved from balancing postures, deep breathing, and calming the mind is a powerful practice for an athlete.
Dana Slamp, senior instructor at Pure Yoga
- Athletes in asymmetric activities such as boxing, hurdles, and archery can benefit from symmetric, weight-bearing postures, including plank, down dog, and chattaranga to balance the body.
- Generally, most athletes should not have the flexibility of say, a dancer, and yet stretching after a race, training session, or competition is essential for healthy repair. Practicing mindful yoga postures with conscious breath helps bring oxygen to the tissues of the body, aiding in the healing process.
- Sports medicine has shown that the the visioning meditations of yoga can improve performance. Balance postures like tree, warrior three, and half moon can hone the "single-pointed focus" that an athlete needs for competition.
- Balance postures have a secondary effect. They improve the yogi's proprioception — or the ability to know where the body is in space. This is of use in every sport imaginable, as is the deep core strength that comes when you balance.